Southern Idaho’s rocky, dark canyons are the backdrop for plunging, sparkling waterfalls — thousands of them, from towering showstoppers that demand attention to out-of-the-way treasures. Here’s your guide to some of Mother Nature’s best displays.
Shoshone Falls – Located at the edge of Twin Falls, Shoshone Falls is a natural beauty on the Snake River. At 212 feet, the falls are higher than Niagara and put on a show in spring and early summer, when water flows are at their peak after winter snowmelt. During high water years, the falls attract thousands of out-of-town spectators who come to witness nature’s awesome power.
Even when the falls aren’t at their peak, they’re still an inspirational sight. Make a day — or even a weekend! — of it by taking advantage of the hiking trails, playgrounds, picnic areas, boat ramps, and swimming holes that surround the falls. You can rent a stand-up paddleboard from the AWOL Dive & Kayak stand and get an up-close view of Shoshone Falls from below — an experience that visitors say they’ll never forget.
Voted one of “The West’s Best Waterfalls” by AAA Via Magazine!
What to know: Shoshone Falls access is available from dawn to dusk. Vehicle fee is $5 per car and $20 per tour bus. Season passes are $25 and can be purchased at the park entrance.
Twin Falls – The city of Twin Falls took its name from these two waterfalls in the Snake River Canyon. So why is only one waterfall visible today? A dam along the Snake River, which uses water for hydroelectricity throughout the year, diverted water away from the second waterfall. However, Twin Falls still remains a beautiful landmark in spring and early summer, when thousands upon thousands of gallons of water plummet 125 feet to the river below.
What to know: The best time to see Twin Falls is from March through early June, before water is diverted for other uses.
Perrine Coulee Falls – Located southwest of the I.B. Perrine Bridge — another Southern Idaho landmark named for pioneering entrepreneur I.B. Perrine — the Perrine Coulee Falls flow year-round. The falls travel a whopping 200 feet to the water below, framed by the rocky canyon walls. These falls are a favorite of photographers and can be snapped from above on the Snake River Canyon Rim Trail or below at Centennial Park.
What to know: You can hike to the base of the waterfall, but exercise caution — the trails are not paved and can be an uneven walk.
Pillar Falls – The best way to reach Pillar Falls is on the Snake River, so get ready for an adventure on the water! Canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard from Centennial Waterfront Park, located on the northside of the canyon, about 1.5 miles upstream towards Shoshone Falls. You’ll be rewarded with an unbelievable view of the Perrine Bridge from below — look out for the BASE jumpers making their way down to the canyon bottom. Pillar Falls was named for the towering rock formations that create this unique landscape. Find a spot to pull out on the north side of Pillar Falls and spend a while taking in this remarkable area.
What to know: You can rent a kayak or SUP at Centennial Waterfront Park from the AWOL Dive & Kayak stand.
Auger Falls – Auger Falls, located in the Snake River Canyon, is easily accessible through the Auger Falls Heritage Park that is managed by the Twin Falls Parks and Recreation Department. Bring your mountain bike or your sturdy walking shoes to get an up-close look at the cascading falls. With over 20 miles of mild terrain trails, wildlife and rock climbing, you’ll find plenty to do while you are there.
What to know: Although the falls run all year long, the area is especially beautiful in the spring when pink and purple wildflowers dot the trail system.
Minnie Miller Springs – This oasis in the Snake River Canyon is named for enterprising Utah woman Minnie Miller, who built a successful dairy farm on Ritter Island in the early 1900s. Minnie Miller Springs is one of the last remaining natural springs in the Thousand Springs complex, and is notable for the clarity of its water. It’s a quarter-mile walk from Minnie Miller’s homestead (her original dairy barn still stands) on Ritter Island State Park to the springs. Pack a lunch, set yourself up at one of the available picnic tables, and take in the sounds and sights of this lovely park.
What to know: This is an ideal place for warm-weather swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or paddling by SUP. Follow the channel below the springs to the Snake River and tour the island in a clockwise direction.
Caldron Linn – At this site near the Oregon Trail, the Snake River is forced through a passage less than 40 feet wide. The result is one of the most intimidating, spectacular waterfalls in Idaho. Also known as Star Falls, this site proved perilous to the Wilson Price Hunt party in 1811. Employed by John Jacob Astor, Hunt’s party traveled overland using information gleaned from the Lewis and Clark expedition. But Caldron Linn proved too rough — Hunt’s party lost a man and two canoes, forcing them back on land. Scottish members of Hunt’s party gave the area its name.
What to know: Not much has changed since 1811: The area is still natural and untamed, and you won’t find safety features like guardrails or paved paths. Upstream, anglers will find great bass fishing; downstream, daring kayakers will find Class V and IV rapids with huge drops.
Niagara Springs – Tumbling down the canyon side at 250 cubic feet per second, Niagara Springs is a sight you won’t soon forget. The churning, icy blue glacial water is a National Natural Landmark and part of the world-famous Thousand Springs complex along the Snake River. The park provides a great opportunity to drive into the 250-foot-deep Snake River Canyon; once inside, you’ll find year-round fishing in Crystal Springs Lake, including a handicap-accessible site. Waterfowl and other wildlife are abundant.
What to know: The canyon road to Niagara Springs is narrow and steep and not recommended for either motorhomes or large trailers.
Thousand Springs Scenic Byway – This touring road is the best way to maximize your waterfall viewing time: There are waterfalls and hot springs everywhere! The vast Snake River Plain Aquifer flows 2,308 miles beneath volcanic rock from the St. Anthony to the Snake River, where it flows over the cliffs at Thousand Springs. Take a boat tour or dinner cruise to get close to these natural wonders. If you’re on a kayak, in a canoe, or on a paddleboard, be sure to check out the clear waters of Blueheart Springs. Believe it or not, you’ll be able to see all the way to the bottom of the river! Other worthy stops include Box Canyon State Park, the Thousand Springs Preserve (home of Minnie Miller Springs), or the Hagerman Section of the Snake and its Class III rapids.
What to know: Those round, massive rocks you see throughout the canyon are called “melon” boulders and were formed millions of years ago.
Malad Gorge and Devil’s Washbowl – This touring road is the best way to maximize your waterfall viewing time: There are waterfalls and hot springs everywhere! The vast Snake River Plain Aquifer flows 2,308 miles beneath volcanic rock from the St. Anthony to the Snake River, where it flows over the cliffs at Thousand Springs. Take a boat tour or dinner cruise to get close to these natural wonders. If you’re on a kayak, in a canoe, or on a paddleboard, be sure to check out the clear waters of Blueheart Springs. Believe it or not, you’ll be able to see all the way to the bottom of the river! Other worthy stops include Box Canyon State Park, the Thousand Springs Preserve (home of Minnie Miller Springs), or the Hagerman Section of the Snake and its Class III rapids.
What to know: The highway crosses over Malad Gorge, but the angle of view hides the deep gorge where the river cascades into Devil’s Washbowl. To get a better view, head to the slender-but-sturdy bridge that arcs across the canyon. You can take a short hike to discover nearby fingers of the gorge, where crystal-clear springs produce ponds and streams.
Even More Falls!
Check these waterfalls off your list for an even deeper dive (pun intended).
Nature Is Ready to Put On a Show
This spring, get outside and watch Mother Nature show off thousands of sparkling, rushing, tumbling waterfalls. We’ve put together a guide that includes out-of-the-way gems and crowd-pleasing stunners.Download Now